VIEWERS blasted a “race” between Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and a great white shark after it emerged the beast was computer generated.
The American, who wore a fin, lost by two seconds in the 100-metre contest off Cape Town.
But instead of racing a real great white in the Discovery Channel show, he was seen beside a CGI shark whose time was based on estimates.
One viewer tweeted: “I thought they were gonna put Phelps up against a real shark. I feel robbed.” Another called it a “scam”.
Phelps, 32, the most decorated Olympian with 28 medals, said afterwards: “I don’t like taking silver medals but I’ll take one against a great white.”
The swimmer took part in the competition, dubbed “Phelps v Shark: Great Gold v Great White”, as part of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.
TV chiefs used performance data to find out how quickly the predator could cover 100 metres.
And they then superimposed an image of the shark on footage of Phelps swimming in the ocean.
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Most thought the Olympian, who can swim at around 6mph, didn’t stand a chance against the simulated shark’s top speed of 25 mph.
However, he had his team level out the playing field between the two, designing him a shark skin-like wetsuit and a Lunocet swimfin mimicking a shark’s tail.
He told USA Today that with the fin, he estimates he reached speeds of 8 to 10, maybe 12.
Phelps went on to say: “But for me, it actually gives me more of an appreciation for how fast (sharks) move through the water, especially at their size.”
Even with the extra help, the shark was just too fast for the 32-year-old, who finished the 100m stretch in 38.1 seconds to the Great White’s 36.1 seconds.
Phelps started off out-swimming the shark, but was pipped to the post at the very end of the race, which took place off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa and was aired on the Discovery Channel.
Speaking to USA Today before the race, Phelps said: “Shark Week was always during major competition, so between (pool) sessions, I was watching stuff about sharks and trying to learn more.
“That’s where my biggest nerdy side comes out, because I’m so infatuated with water and infatuated with sharks.”
But the swimmer wasn’t willing to give up that easily – tweeting soon after the “race”: “Rematch? Next time..warmer water.”
SunSport previously revealed why Phelps is so successful in the water, putting it down to his wingspan, huge palms and feet as well as his upper body.
And just in case you were curious about the US swimmer, here are some mind-boggling facts about him.